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The Parable of the Tenants

Jesus then began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants to collect from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. But they seized him, beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Then he sent another servant to them; they struck this man on the head and treated him shamefully. He sent still another, and that one they killed. He sent many others; some of them they beat, others they killed.

“He had one left to send, a son, whom he loved. He sent him last of all, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’

“But the tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard.

“What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others. Haven’t you read this passage of Scripture:

“‘The stone the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone;

the Lord has done this,

and it is marvellous in our eyes’?”

Then the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away.

Mark 12:1-12

Today is Good Friday, the day when we remember Jesus’s death on the cross. Just as the son in the parable, Jesus was sent as a messenger by his father, only to be put to a violent death. Rejected by the very people he was sent to save. Is it not rather haunting that Jesus told this story before his death? Jesus knew what awaited him if he continued on the path he was on. And yet he did not run away or flinch from what was a terrible fate. “Not my will but yours.”

On the cross Jesus bore our sins for us, suffering alongside all of us. God willingly became a victim and in doing so joined in solidarity with all those who suffer. As terrible as the Crucifixion was, it is also the greatest example of love in history: God giving himself to us in an act of pure, sacrificial love.

Love transforms the cross from an act of human cruelty into God’s great act of redemption and restoration. God’s Love turned a senseless tragedy into a new beginning for humanity, a chance for forgiveness and a new covenant. Or in other words, the stone that the builders threw away became the cornerstone, the foundation of something much greater than anything they could ever have imagined.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, word cannot begin to describe what you did on the Cross. The heights of your love and the depths of your pain will always be a mystery to us. Help us to meditate on the Cross, to allow its painful glory to transform us from the inside out.

Action: Take some time to read one of the Crucifixion accounts (Matt. 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, John 19) and try to sit with the sadness of the story. It can be tempting to want to rush forwards to the Resurrection as that gives the story a happy ending but try not to. Allow yourself to read the Good Friday story on its own. How does it speak to you today?

This Thought was written by David Moodie